Nothing gives your life some spice like a red hot chili pepper.
Hoo boy, chili peppers burn something fierce. I’ve heard spicy food enthusiasts say that intense spiciness often hides interesting, complex flavors, but all I taste is pain and sadness. Still, even if you’re not a fan of peppers (and I know I’m not), you may want to consider adding some more heat to your diet.
According to a new study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who eat chili peppers on a regular basis show improved cardiovascular health and a general decrease in mortality risk. Technically, this is nothing new; civilizations dating back hundreds of years have often associated chili peppers with good health. Turns out, though, there’s a scientific basis to it.
Chili peppers contain a natural chemical called capsaicin. This chemical is what gives naturally spicy foods its intense kick. According to the study, capsaicin from chili peppers “has been observed to favorably improve cardiovascular function and metabolic regulation in experimental and population studies.”
“In a model adjusted only for age, sex, and energy intake, regular consumption [4 or more times each week] of chili pepper was associated with 23% lower risk of all-cause mortality, as opposed to none/rare intake, and results remained substantially unchanged in the fully adjusted model,” the study explains.
However, before you start eating nothing but chilis for all three years, know this: people who eat an excessive amount of chili peppers experienced higher rates of diabetes and hypertension, as well as a higher BMI, according to the study. A few chilis on a semi-regular basis are probably the best choice.